Hawthorn’s AFLW team has taken a big step towards the highly anticipated start of the 2023 AFLW season in September, completing an intense match simulation at Cazalys Stadium, Cairns on Saturday morning.

The Hawks were tasked with playing against an AFL Cairns Invitational team, featuring some of the best senior women’s players from the region.

Bec Goddard’s team came out firing and were able to put a host of things into practice following a tough pre-season so far.

The coach took a number of positives out of her side’s performance, as they seized the opportunity to play against opposition for the first time this pre-season.

“The focus was just to come up here and enjoy playing some footy against a team that we don’t train against and make it a little bit more unpredictable than what we’ve had at pre-season training for the past five weeks,” she said.

“(We played in) absolutely amazing conditions, and it was great to meet some of the locals from Cairns and just enjoy the surrounds.”


A spirited crowd watched on at Cazalys Stadium, not only supporting their Cairns locals but also keeping an eye on premiership duo Emily Bates and Greta Bodey, who both played their first unofficial game in Hawks colours.

It was familiar territory for Bodey, as her first opportunity to play Aussie Rules was in Cairns, balancing her new love for the sport while working at Cairns Hospital as a physio for six months in 2019.

Coming into the game, everyone knew how talented Bates and Bodey were as individuals, but Goddard was particularly impressed with how well they slotted into Hawthorn’s existing midfield and forward line, respectively.

“They did exactly what we expected them to do,” the coach said.

“We wanted to get a really good combination and see how that looked with our existing players.

“(We wanted to see) what Batesy looked like with (Jasmine) Fleming in the middle and with (Charlotte) Baskaran doing some different things and (Tamara) Smithy and (Kristy) Stratton coming through the middle as well.

“(We also wanted to see) what Greta does in real life match sim other than training around (Sarah) Perkins, around (Bridie) Hipwell, so we got a really good gauge on that today.”

Speaking of Bridie Hipwell, the 2022 draftee was one of the brightest prospects on the ground.

Playing as a high forward, the 19-year-old took a number of strong marks and backed it up with multiple goals on the scoresheet.

It was reward for effort for the former Vic Metro representative, who has put in a mountain of work this pre-season to improve her marking, goalkicking and most importantly, confidence.

“Bridie’s been outstanding over the off-season,” Goddard said.

“She has just done everything that she possibly can to put herself in the best position to be a great full forward and I think we saw today with some marking that we haven’t seen out of Bridie before.

“It’s clearly an art that she’s trying to be elite at and she took some great grabs today and finished her work really well.”


While the focus for Goddard was on her own team, she couldn’t help but praise the AFL Cairns Invitational team for the way they conducted themselves against a host of AFLW stars.

“They represented themselves really well,” she said.

“We wanted to make it hard and so that’s what I asked them to do.

“You can see by the end of it, our players are really dragging their legs and the Cairns players are still running around like it’s the first quarter.

“It was great to see them put that intent into it and make it difficult for our players.”

Hawthorn will now return to Melbourne and continue to build towards Round 1, which is set to take place during the first week of September.